|"Uhu"... Hawaiian Parrotfish|
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In order to eat this delicious fish, you have to clean it, which isn't easy. Forget your normal fish scaler, Hawaiians use a spoon, and they do it outside for a good reason. The scales are large, with the consistency of a thumbnail. In order to get the tough scales off, it must be done with gusto, and because of that, they fly everywhere like no other fish scales.
The blue male is the best to eat according to locals. The flesh is white, tender and sweet, making it delicious sauteed with lemon butter and capers, steamed with lemon grass and thin slices of lime, grilled covered with mushrooms, garlic, and mayonnaise, or the filipino soup, "tinola" style, stewed in ginger, onions, chayote squash and watercress, or simply fried in egg, corn flower, sea salt and black pepper. Some locals say uhu is best served “steamed” – head on, but it depends on who you talk to. My feeling is that you can't go wrong, anyway you cook it.
I first had grilled uhu at a local luau here on Moloka'i. I was amazed that the cook used seasoned mayonnaise, which was spread all over the fish prior to grilling. It tasted amazing!
2 ti leaves or banana leaves (optional, but this is how we do it in Hawaii)
1 whole 5 pound uhu (parrotfish), gutted, scales removed, and gutted, then scored 3 or 4 times on its sides
1 cup mayonnaise
4 lap xiong or Chinese sausage, or 1/2 cup Portuguese sausage, diced
3/4 cup shiitake or oyster mushrooms, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced into 2-inch pieces, 1/4 cup reserved for garnish
Preheat the grill. Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place 1 ti leaf on top, followed by the fish. Lightly rub both sides of the fish, and its cavity with sea salt, pat dry with a paper towel. Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a small bowl until blended. Spread the mayonnaise mixture all over the fish, getting into all the scores and cavity. Combine the sausage, mushrooms, and green onions and stuff the mixture into the fish scores and cavity, flipping and stuffing into the other side as well. Top the fish with the second ti leaf, and then another piece of aluminum foil, tightly wrapping it all up to form a pouch. Grill the fish for 15-20 minutes on each side, until the flesh is white, not opaque. Carefully unwrap the foil and place on platter, including juices. Squeeze lemon/limes over fish and lightly spoon Vietnamese fish sauce or diluted Patis over fish. Garnish with reserved green onions, cilantro and sliced cherry tomatoes. Makes 2-4 servings.
1 whole 5 pound uhu (parrotfish), gutted, scales removed, and then scored 3 or 4 times on its sides
Place the fish on a plate. Using a knife, make diagonal slits in the body on both sides of the fish. Sprinkle with sea salt, inside and out. Place garlic and ginger in between the slits. Sprinkle some pepper on both sides. Coat with the mayonnaise. Stuff the cavity with the tomatoes, onions and basil. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top. Seal tightly with heavy duty foil, and place in a pre-heated 350˚F oven for 45 minutes. This cooks best when placed on a rack on top of a baking sheet on the oven's top shelf. When cooked, garnish with chopped cilantro and green onions. Makes 4 servings. Note: This recipe works well with other whole fish such as sea bass, snapper, and even salmon. Makes 4 servings.